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The Abstinence Teacher: A Novel

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The Abstinence Teacher: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780312358334
ISBN10: 0312358334
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise kids. It's got the proverbial good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market. It's the kind of place where parents are involved in their children's lives, where no opportunity for enrichment goes unexplored.

Ruth Ramsey is the human sexuality teacher at the local high school. She believes that "pleasure is good, shame is bad, and knowledge is power." Ruth's younger daughter's soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved. Tim belongs to The Tabernacle, an evangelical Christian church that doesn't approve of Ruth's style of teaching. And Ruth in turn doesn't applaud The Tabernacle's mission to take its message outside its doors. Adversaries in a small-town culture war, Ruth and Tim instinctively mistrust each other. But when a controversy on the soccer field pushes the two of them to actually talk to each other, they are forced to take each other at something other than face value.

The Abstinence Teacher exposes the powerful emotions that run beneath the surface of modern American family life and explores the complex spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people. Elegantly written, it is characterized by the distinctive mix of satire and compassion that have animated Perrotta's previous novels.

Review:

"'Signature Reviewed by Jennifer Gilmore Tom Perrotta knows his suburbia, and in The Abstinence Teacher he carves out an even larger chunk of his distinct terrain. Set in the northeastern suburb of Stonewood Heights, Perrotta's sixth book takes on the war between the liberals and the evangelists. When single mother Ruth Ramsay, the sex ed teacher at the local high school, tells her class that oral sex can be enjoyable, the Tabernacle of the Gospel Truth church begins its crusade. Believable or not, the school agrees to an abstinence curriculum and in marches JoAnn Marlowe with her blonde hair and pumps to instill in Ruth the tenets of the new program. Gone are the days of rolling a condom over a cucumber; now Ruth is required to promote restraint, which she does wearily and halfheartedly. These are heady days, when students rat out their teachers and the local soccer coach — Ruth's daughter is on his team — is a divorced ex-druggie and active Tabernacle member. When Tim leads the team in prayer, Ruth wrenches her daughter from the circle and the hostility between the opposing camps grows. Who is bad and who is good? Ruth's youthful promiscuity rises slowly to the surface, while Tim's struggle to stay sober makes him constantly confront his past. He's lost his wife and daughter — also on the soccer team — to his addictions, but now he's clean and married to a Tabernacle girl. His Jesus-loving ways, however, are in direct conflict with his desires, rendering him the most complex and likable character. When he loses his own battle with abstinence at a poker party, the finest scene in the novel culminates with his keying 'Jesus' across the hood of an SUV parked in the drive. Ruth would gladly have sex if it would only come her way, and she also drinks on school nights. A less well-drawn complement to Tim, Ruth is a tolerant liberal with a newly toned body who plays therapist to her gay friends, but who can't accept that her children are interested in Jesus.The lesson is that everybody must give up something. Even Ruth's ex-lover, once a pudgy trumpet player, no longer eats to maintain his abs of steel. So what is lost when we cannot succumb to our desires? Who then do we become? The book is rife with Perrotta's subtle and satiric humor (the Tabernacle is seen as a place of diversity, while the punks, Deadheads and headbangers of Tim's past are all predictably the same), but these questions get lost as the plot winds down. Issues of sex and religion that have shaken the town become, in the end, the story of what Ruth and Tim's newly forged relationship will soon become. Jennifer Gilmore is the author of the novel Golden Country, which will be out in paperback in September. ' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Tom Perrotta's new novel sounds like something to get all hot and bothered about. The chemistry is perfect for this master of suburban satire: fundamentalist Christians gettin' down with liberal sex ed. With a hookup like this, there should be fireworks, but for some reason 'The Abstinence Teacher' suffers from a kind of literary erectile dysfunction (LED). It's nothing to worry about, I suppose;... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[S]hrewd yet compassionate....Ruefully humorous and tenderly understanding of human folly: the most mature, accomplished work yet from this deservedly bestselling author." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"Perrotta deals with these timely issues by having characters from the different camps forced to confront one another. What results from these civilized exchanges, which feel so human in their complexity and confusion, is a more personal, inside view of how such tensions play out. Recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Perotta focuses on the small, personal motives behind life's big shake-ups. A finely wrought novel that will be in demand." Booklist

Review:

"[A] genial new suburban satire....[Perrotta] resists giving firm answers to the thorny moral questions lurking in his material — which is a relief. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"As formulaic as this plot might sound, Mr. Perrotta uses it not to construct a conventional screwball romance but to create a sad-funny-touching story that looks at the frustrations and perils of life in suburbia through darkly tinted, not rose-colored glasses..." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Synopsis:

Perrotta's topical novel illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people.

Synopsis:

The rich new novel by the bestselling author of Little Children, Joe College, and Election.

Synopsis:

The rich new novel by the bestselling author of Little Children, Joe College, and Election

Synopsis:

Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise children, but amid its good schools and healthy real estate market, a small-town culture war is brewing. The Abstinence Teacher focuses on two divorced parents who become adversaries in the mess: Ruth Ramsey is the human sexuality teacher at the local high school who believes that "pleasure is good, shame is bad, and knowledge is power." Her younger daughter's soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved. Ruth and Tim instinctively distrust one another, but when a controversy on the playing field forces the two of them to actually talk to each other, an uneasy friendship begins to develop. Elegantly written and with Perrotta's distinctive mix of satire and compassion, The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern American family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people.

Synopsis:

“Perrotta is that rare combination: a satirist with heart….Those who havent curled up on the couch with this writers books are missing a very great pleasure.”—Seattle Times

Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise children: its got good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market.  Parents in the town are involved in their childrens lives, and often in other childrens lives, too—coaching sports, driving carpool, focusing on enriching experiences.  Ruth Ramsey is the high school human sexuality teacher whose openness is not appreciated by all her students—or their parents.  Her daughters soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved.  Tims introduction of Christianity on the playing field horrifies Ruth, while his evangelical church sees a useful target in the loose-lipped sex ed teacher.  But when these two adversaries in a small-town culture war actually talk to each other, a surprising friendship begins to develop.

“Nobody renders the world of soccer moms and sprinklers and SUVs like Perrotta. Hes the Steinbeck of suburbia.”—Time

“Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America.”—The New York Times Book Review (in a front-page review)

The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern American family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people. It is elegantly and simply written, characterized by the distinctive mix of satire and compassion that has become Perrottas trademark.

About the Author

Tom Perrotta is the author of five previous work of fiction: Bad Haircut, The Wishbones, Election, and the New York Times bestselling Joe College and Little Children. Election was made into the acclaimed 1999 movie directed by Alexander Payne and starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. Little Children was released as a movie directed by Todd Field and starring Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly in 2006, and for which Perrotta received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for best screenplay. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Deborah Fochler, October 24, 2007 (view all comments by Deborah Fochler)
A funny, truthful, irreverant and utterly serious story about small town life with characters with very different beliefs. Based on sex ed in the school system and the ageless war that rages year after year. What do you tell the children and teenagers. Do you blindly tell them that sex is bad and they must refrain or do you give them information to protect themselves? This book is very serious while hysterically funny. The characters while flawed and each facing their own demons are endearing and could very easily be your next door neighbor or friend. I truly enjoyed the experience.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(21 of 39 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312358334
Author:
Perrotta, Tom
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Author:
Scott, Campbell
Subject:
General
Subject:
Interpersonal Relations
Subject:
Evangelists
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
October 16, 2007
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
9 CDs, 11.5 hours
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.29 x 5.48 x 1 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life

The Abstinence Teacher: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$2.50 In Stock
Product details 368 pages St. Martin's Press - English 9780312358334 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'Signature Reviewed by Jennifer Gilmore Tom Perrotta knows his suburbia, and in The Abstinence Teacher he carves out an even larger chunk of his distinct terrain. Set in the northeastern suburb of Stonewood Heights, Perrotta's sixth book takes on the war between the liberals and the evangelists. When single mother Ruth Ramsay, the sex ed teacher at the local high school, tells her class that oral sex can be enjoyable, the Tabernacle of the Gospel Truth church begins its crusade. Believable or not, the school agrees to an abstinence curriculum and in marches JoAnn Marlowe with her blonde hair and pumps to instill in Ruth the tenets of the new program. Gone are the days of rolling a condom over a cucumber; now Ruth is required to promote restraint, which she does wearily and halfheartedly. These are heady days, when students rat out their teachers and the local soccer coach — Ruth's daughter is on his team — is a divorced ex-druggie and active Tabernacle member. When Tim leads the team in prayer, Ruth wrenches her daughter from the circle and the hostility between the opposing camps grows. Who is bad and who is good? Ruth's youthful promiscuity rises slowly to the surface, while Tim's struggle to stay sober makes him constantly confront his past. He's lost his wife and daughter — also on the soccer team — to his addictions, but now he's clean and married to a Tabernacle girl. His Jesus-loving ways, however, are in direct conflict with his desires, rendering him the most complex and likable character. When he loses his own battle with abstinence at a poker party, the finest scene in the novel culminates with his keying 'Jesus' across the hood of an SUV parked in the drive. Ruth would gladly have sex if it would only come her way, and she also drinks on school nights. A less well-drawn complement to Tim, Ruth is a tolerant liberal with a newly toned body who plays therapist to her gay friends, but who can't accept that her children are interested in Jesus.The lesson is that everybody must give up something. Even Ruth's ex-lover, once a pudgy trumpet player, no longer eats to maintain his abs of steel. So what is lost when we cannot succumb to our desires? Who then do we become? The book is rife with Perrotta's subtle and satiric humor (the Tabernacle is seen as a place of diversity, while the punks, Deadheads and headbangers of Tim's past are all predictably the same), but these questions get lost as the plot winds down. Issues of sex and religion that have shaken the town become, in the end, the story of what Ruth and Tim's newly forged relationship will soon become. Jennifer Gilmore is the author of the novel Golden Country, which will be out in paperback in September. ' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[S]hrewd yet compassionate....Ruefully humorous and tenderly understanding of human folly: the most mature, accomplished work yet from this deservedly bestselling author."
"Review" by , "Perrotta deals with these timely issues by having characters from the different camps forced to confront one another. What results from these civilized exchanges, which feel so human in their complexity and confusion, is a more personal, inside view of how such tensions play out. Recommended."
"Review" by , "Perotta focuses on the small, personal motives behind life's big shake-ups. A finely wrought novel that will be in demand."
"Review" by , "[A] genial new suburban satire....[Perrotta] resists giving firm answers to the thorny moral questions lurking in his material — which is a relief. (Grade: B+)"
"Review" by , "As formulaic as this plot might sound, Mr. Perrotta uses it not to construct a conventional screwball romance but to create a sad-funny-touching story that looks at the frustrations and perils of life in suburbia through darkly tinted, not rose-colored glasses..."
"Synopsis" by , Perrotta's topical novel illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people.
"Synopsis" by , The rich new novel by the bestselling author of Little Children, Joe College, and Election.
"Synopsis" by ,
The rich new novel by the bestselling author of Little Children, Joe College, and Election
"Synopsis" by ,
Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise children, but amid its good schools and healthy real estate market, a small-town culture war is brewing. The Abstinence Teacher focuses on two divorced parents who become adversaries in the mess: Ruth Ramsey is the human sexuality teacher at the local high school who believes that "pleasure is good, shame is bad, and knowledge is power." Her younger daughter's soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved. Ruth and Tim instinctively distrust one another, but when a controversy on the playing field forces the two of them to actually talk to each other, an uneasy friendship begins to develop. Elegantly written and with Perrotta's distinctive mix of satire and compassion, The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern American family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people.
"Synopsis" by ,

“Perrotta is that rare combination: a satirist with heart….Those who havent curled up on the couch with this writers books are missing a very great pleasure.”—Seattle Times

Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise children: its got good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market.  Parents in the town are involved in their childrens lives, and often in other childrens lives, too—coaching sports, driving carpool, focusing on enriching experiences.  Ruth Ramsey is the high school human sexuality teacher whose openness is not appreciated by all her students—or their parents.  Her daughters soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved.  Tims introduction of Christianity on the playing field horrifies Ruth, while his evangelical church sees a useful target in the loose-lipped sex ed teacher.  But when these two adversaries in a small-town culture war actually talk to each other, a surprising friendship begins to develop.

“Nobody renders the world of soccer moms and sprinklers and SUVs like Perrotta. Hes the Steinbeck of suburbia.”—Time

“Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America.”—The New York Times Book Review (in a front-page review)

The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern American family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people. It is elegantly and simply written, characterized by the distinctive mix of satire and compassion that has become Perrottas trademark.

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